Award-winning writer Izzy Tennyson returns to the Edinburgh Fringe in the shadow of her previous show Brute to tell the story of two dissimilar sisters who must navigate strained relationships with self-possessed relatives in the wake of their mother’s death.
A comedic play about death with a Fear & Loathing twist
Tennyson, who also plays Jo, offers her lines with whip-quick delivery, barely giving us time to digest the words before a new character takes over with another frustration to share. With themes of death, class and family, The Great Ruckus has much potential to be moving, but confusion is more likely felt due to the sheer number of characters played by the two actors.
Though the comedy sometimes gets lost within extended back stories, Tennyson’s writing is incredibly astute, performed with good timing and commitment from main characters Jo and Ida (who also offers up a range of cracking regional accents).
The production has an added layer thanks to original hand-drawn cartoons in the style of Ralph Steadman, giving The Great Ruckus the maverick feel of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, led by our protagonist who spits long diatribes at the audience like a Welsh Hunter S. Thompson on a lot less drugs.
Considering that Tennyson is early in her career, the cynicism in her writing may feel unwarranted, especially as she touches upon the uselessness of a Durham University degree and the shame of stacking shelves at Waitrose, with limited empathy for other family members.
Nevertheless, if you can pin your ears back for this wordy marathon of a play, you’ll get Dickensian insight into the pessimistic complexities of the young in our age of individualism.